Outlook 2007 HTML: A Response and Demonstration

It appears that the fixoutlook.org campaign launched June 24 on Twitter by the Email Standards Project (ESP) has reached its metaphorical critical mass. The campaign received over 20,000 retweets of support within the first day and several thousand more over the next few days—but that's pretty much where it's leveled off. Microsoft's response confirming the company's plan to continue using Word for HTML rendering and authoring in Microsoft Office Outlook 2010 might have taken the fight out of some supporters.

In response to "Does Outlook 2010 Need Fixing?" I received an email message from Microsoft MVP Ben M. Schorr, who wanted to make it clear that Outlook 2007 and the forthcoming Outlook 2010 support a wide variety of HTML formatting. It's really only the advanced layout features made possible by Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) that Outlook doesn't do. Here's Ben's message just as it appeared in my Outlook Inbox:


Quick point of order…you said:

But HTML isn't just about fancy formatting. Do you want to put a simple image in a message, rather than adding it as an attachment—say, a corporate logo in your email signature? Woops, can't do that without HTML. And have you noticed how plain plain text actually is? That's right, no italics, bold, or highlighting. I'm sure most people don't worry about these things when they dash off an email message—particularly if they're already fluent in the even more primitive formatting of text messaging. And I'm also sure that most people who do use these formatting controls in Outlook don't realize they're calling on HTML to get the job done.

To me that reads like you’re saying Outlook 2010 won’t support those things. Except Outlook 2007 (and 2010) supports that level of HTML just fine. Bold, Italics, even highlighting works just fine in Outlook. So do horizontal lines, as you can see above. And yes, you can embed images too…



(This is a lot prettier than my corporate logo).

I could do a table



If I wanted to



But I don’t want to



So I won’t



Anyhow, pretty sure that’s not really what you meant to imply, and perhaps I’m just misreading, but just to be clear…because a lot of people who are getting hysterical about Outlook’s HTML support don’t seem to understand it, Outlook 2007 and 2010 *DO* support this level of HTML just great. It’s primarily CSS support that the e-mail marketers (like the guy who founded the so-called “E-mail Standards Project”) are asking for.

Master Plan for E-mail Ad Domination 1

Outlook 2007 and 2010 support all sorts of nifty graphics and charts in e-mail. Of course, very few people actually use charts in e-mail…


By the way, Gmail has pretty shoddy CSS support too. I haven’t seen any “#fixgmail” campaign, interestingly enough. :-)

Best wishes and aloha,

Ben M. Schorr

I like the way Ben was able to make his point, have a little fun, and demonstrate exactly what Outlook 2007 can do with HTML all at the same time. Although the marketers and developers who support ESP's campaign do have valid criticism's of Outlook's handling of advanced HTML such as CSS, certainly this level of HTML is more than enough for most business users.

Apart from the inserted waterfall image, everything in this email message was created through Outlook's new mail window. Are you skeptical? Well, check out "Outlook 2007's Fancy Formatting: A Quick How-To" and I'll walk you through the procedure so you can impress your coworkers—or your boss—with that next departmental memo you have to send.

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